March 3 - 7:30 PM CT
Sporting Kansas City may be playing their season opener but already have an amazing start to the year. With wins in both legs of their CCL matchup with Toluca, SKC seems to be firing on all cylinders but will be facing a rested and ready squad in LA.
Sporting KC played in Thursday in Mexico and already have had a heavy travel schedule.
Peter Vermes vs Bob Bradley
Both coaches preach identity (or whichever buzz word they may be using at the time) and will have well drilled teams. Both Bradley and Vermes are in their 11th season coaching in MLS.
Vermes is 133-99-82 all with Sporting KC. Bradley is 140-103-63 in MLS. Bradley previously coached the Chicago Fire, the New York/New Jersey MetrosStars and Chivas USA before taking the U.S. National team job. After being let go in favor of Juergen Klinsmann, Bradley bounced around a few spots before returning to LA (where Chivas USA was) to coach expansion side LAFC. Last season was the only time the two coaches faced each other on the sideline.
With LAFC coming in to the league last season, the two teams have only played twice with SKC winning both. In LA they won 2-0 and at home SKC pulled out a 2-1 victory.
In their first meeting, Gerso Fernandes was setup by Diego Rubio for a goal and then Ilie Sanchez buried a pk when Felipe Gutierrez was kicked in the head while attempting a diving header at near goal.
The second match was important for both teams as they were battling for position at the end of the year. SKC took the lead with golazo from Roger Espinoza. LAFC leveled it after Seth Sinovic was red carded when a hot hit near his arm while on the post. LAFC star Vela finished the resulting penalty. SKC played a man down but still created some chances. Finally homegrown International Daniel Salloi put one in the net to secure the win and boost SKC to top of the Western Conference.
QUESTIONABLE: • Gianluca Busio (Quad Injury) • Krisztian Nemeth (Ankle Injury)
OUT: • Jimmy Medranda (Knee Injury)
QUESTIONABLE: FWD: Josh Perez (L Hamstring strain) *** Carlos Vela was listed as questionable on the MLS preview but not the official game preview and the LAFC side expects him to be available.
OUT: MID – Alejandro Guido (R Quad strain) MID – André Horta (R Quad strain)
Sporting KC - None
LAFC - None
REFEREE: Robert Sibiga
AR1 (bench): Jason White
AR2 (opposite): Ian Anderson
4th: Timothy Ford
VAR: Kevin Stott
AVAR: Joshua Patlak
Sibiga was the center for four Sporting KC matches in 2018. SKC won twice on the road (2-0, 3-0) and won once and drew once at home (2-0, 0-0). He issued 12 yellows, 7 to opponents and 5 to SKC. He also issued a red card to a Columbus player in the four games.
He gave four penalties, two to SKC and two to opponents. Tim Meila saved both of them and SKC converted one of their attempts. Three of them were in Dallas where SKC won 3-0.
With Sporting KC in the middle of CCL matches and going on the road to play in Panama on Thursday, Vermes will be hard pressed to use the same starters from the Toluca series. While some players may be in both starting groups, it is expected that there will be some, if not a lot of rotation.
Two competing and opposite factors in determining the lineup. The starters in Mexico probably were not worked as hard as expected even though they played at altitude. They also have the most cohesion from playing but Vermes built the team to have nearly two full starting lineups capable of competing in each competition.
A full swap is almost impossible since Kuzain and Graham Smith started in a Swope Park Rangers preseason game on Saturday.
This is probably the hardest to predict lineup in a long while. Vermes could swap out and have a complete different 11 or just a few and maintain more consistency.
People that know me also know I hate predictions. With that said, Sporting KC is very capable of getting a result in LA, even without a not first team lineup. I do expect it to be close and for LAFC to score their first goal against Sporting KC in the run of play.
SKC 2 - 2 LAFC
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